European Commission seeks EUR 2.3 million adjustment fund for Germany's redundant former First Solar employees


The European Commission has put forward a proposal to the European Parliament to secure €2.3 million ($3.12 million) from the EGF to help 875 former employees of First Solar Manufacturing GmbH.

The request came originally from German authorities who felt that the 1,244 workers made redundant by First Solar Manufacturing GmbH were entitled to EGF support. It is expected that 875 of those will participate in EGF co-funded measures designed to aid their re-integration into employment. These measures include job search support, training courses, training management, peer group workshops, subsistence allowance and activation grants.

First Solar Manufacturing GmbH shut down production in Germany at the end of 2012, leaving 1,244 people unemployed and raising the unemployment rate of Frankfurt Oder by 4%. In a region that was already bedeviled by higher-than-average unemployment (11.3% compared with a national German average of 7.4%), the closure of the production facility was felt even more keenly. As a result, local authorities felt it necessary to seek financial assistance from the EGF.

"Redundancies like these are major shocks to regional economies," said the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor. "EU solidarity is helping dismissed workers upgrade their skills and prepare for new opportunities. This proposal for €2.3 million from Europe’s Globalisation Fund would help ease workers’ transition to new jobs."

The total package sought is estimated to be worth €4.6 million, with the EGF providing half and the German government the other half.

First Solar to build 250 MW plant in California

Meanwhile, First Solar’s U.S. arm continues its expansion throughout the States with the announcement that it is to build a 250 MW solar power plant for NextEra Energy Resources.

The plant will be located in Riverside County, California, across a 2,300 acre site on land provided by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). First Solar will provide full EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) services, and will fit the plant with their cadmium telluride (CdTe) PV thin-film modules.

First Solar had previously built two solar plants in Canada for an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources.

"First Solar is pleased to have this opportunity to work again with NextEra," said First Solar’s director of business development for the U.S., Roger Bredder. "And we are proud to continue providing jobs in Riverside County."

Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin in late 2014, and completion is expected by the end of 2016. It is estimated that during peak operation the project will provide 400 construction jobs.